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GOP nominee Ryan extols free enterprise in Fresno
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FRESNO  (AP) — Republican vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan extolled the values of free enterprise and self-determination at a Fresno fundraising dinner Saturday as he swept through California during a western campaign swing.

The Wisconsin congressman spoke briefly to an audience of about 480 at Fresno Convention Center’s Valdez Hall. He referred to an August job report from the Labor Department, saying that President Barack Obama was unable to create job growth and that household incomes continued to slip under his leadership.

“He’s speaking to people like they’re stuck in their station in life, like they’re victims beyond control. That’s not the American ideal,” Ryan said.

Ryan said he and Mitt Romney would remove barriers to employment, including reforming the education system.

“We believe in a safety net,” he said, “but we don’t want to turn it into a hammock that lulls able bodied people into a sense of complacency.”

Ryan also slammed Obama’s proposal to increase taxes for the wealthy. He said: “When you’re raising tax rates, you’re hurting small businesses. It’s the most successful Americans who are creating most of our jobs.”

Ryan praised Romney for turning around struggling businesses and creating successful ones.

“The man created thousands of jobs. You’d think that’s a good skill set to revive the economy,” Ryan said. “”Being successful in business, that is a good thing in this country, we take pride in that.”

Ryan promised he and Romney would cut spending to get the deficit under control and accused Obama of “practicing European economics,” adding that “if we copy European economics, we will get European results.”

Several Central California groups — including the Joaquin Valley Democratic Club, the NAACP and Communications Workers of America Local 9408 — protested outside the Ryan dinner venue.

About 150 people held anti-Ryan signs and chanted “people before profit” and “heal America, tax Wall Street.” They faced off to about 30 pro-Ryan demonstrators — Fresno State College Republicans — who staged a counter protest and got into a chanting and shouting match.

“I don’t like Ryan’s budget proposal and his idea for Medicare vouchers,” said Linda Martinez, a retired teacher who drove to the rally from Woodland, near Sacramento. “I just turned 65. A lot of people behind me will have nothing if his plan goes into effect.”

Earlier this week, Ryan attended campaign rallies and fundraisers in California and Nevada. He is scheduled to head to fundraisers in Portland, Ore. and Seattle on Monday.